SCOTTISH police officers suffered 15 assaults a day on average over the past three years, according to shocking new figures.
A total of 17,120 attacks have been recorded since 2010 – a situation described as “disgraceful” and “totally unacceptable” by politicians.
The statistics mean Scottish police officers have a one in three chance of being attacked every year compared with a relatively low one in 18 in London.
Scottish Tories said the number of incidents demonstrated the need for tougher sentences for those who assault police officers.
The information was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by police news website PoliceOracle.
They reveal Scotland’s 17,234 police officers suffered 5524 assaults in 2010, 6041 in 2011 and 5555 in 2012.
A spokesman for the Scottish Police Federation said: “Police Officers join the job to protect our communities and expect that our Courts will protect them likewise, in return, when they are indeed assaulted.
“However all too often in a case of multiple charges , police assaults are plea bargained away
“The effect of this is that some individuals never have criminal records for Police Assault and believe they can do so every time and plea bargain that charge away
“We have challenged this before and are told that this is not the case , however those officers so assaulted believe this is not the case.”
Scottish Conservative justice spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell said: “These are very serious incidents, and those found guilty of them should face severe punishment.
“Given the frequency of these attacks, it is clear much stronger action has to be taken.
“That would send out a strong message and make it clear that such acts of violence are totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Alison McInnes MSP said:“These figures remind us all that, day after day, police officers doing their duty can face hostile and violent behaviour.
“The minority of people who act in this disgraceful way not only hurt officers and their families, but undermine the abilities of police officers to serve local communities effectively.
“Ultimately, the responsibility to reduce these reprehensible accounts of abuse lies with the minority of individuals who lash out against the police, the onus on the rest of us is to make it clear we do not condemn such violence.”
The PoliceOracle figures also cover England and Wales and show that assault rates on Scottish officers are worse than big cities south of the border.
The Met’s 31,000 police officers suffer an average of 1,746 attacks a year, while Greater Manchester recorded an average of 885 assaults.
West Midlands police, who are responsible for Birmingham have an average of 435 assaults per year on their officers, slightly higher than Merseyside, who have an average of 406.
A spokesman for Police Scotland said: “‘By the very nature of policing, officers can find themselves in situations where there is a potential to be assaulted.
“There has been significant development in recent years in the design of police uniforms and protective equipment.
“All of these, and the extending reach of CCTV, have assisted officers in tackling violent or potentially violent situations in a way that minimises risk and injury. CS spray, tasers and protective vests are prime examples.”
A Scottish Premiership footballer pleaded guilty to assaulting two police officers on December 16 last year.
St Mirren midfielder Paul McGowan, 26, admitted kicking the two officers on the body in Airdrie and at Coatbridge police office on 11 August.
Airdrie Sheriff Court heard how McGowan, who lives in the North Lanarkshire town, had a previous conviction for police assault.
The court heard how McGowan admitted kicking PC Edward Gilmartin on the body, and repeatedly kicking Sgt Tony Fitzpatrick on the body.